Guest Opinion: La Puente seeks input


When we hear from our neighbors that there are problems, we do our absolute best to be a good neighbor. We appreciate our neighbor’s insights last week and are actively taking steps to meet the concerns of those in our community. We acknowledge there are problems in our community and we wholeheartedly want to be part of the solution.

In the history of Alamosa, La Puente and public safety have always been intertwined. The nuns who helped form La Puente were literally looking for solutions to keep people from freezing to death during our harsh winters. They found business owners who wanted to put an end to folks sleeping in their doorways. They partnered with others in our community who believed that we have a responsibility for one another. Among La Puente’s earliest supporters was the Chief of Police Roy Orton. Chief Orton desperately wanted to find a solution to the criminalization of the homeless. He continued to be an advocate for La Puente over the years because he was proud that our community came together to care for the least among us, making our community much safer. This good working relationship still endures after three decades.

Safety is of paramount concern every day at La Puente. Unfortunately, addiction has permeated our quaint towns. There isn’t a corner of our Valley that hasn’t felt the negative effects of addiction. It is a reality we must all confront and begin to address the root causes together. When the community came together at the SLV Baptist Church they asked us to make an investment in our community and that trash and safety were issues. We heard them. Over the past 18 months, we have taken some proactive measures to promote safety, increase accountability, and beautify our neighborhood.

* We continue to promote a drug-free campus policy.  

* We financially support neighborhood watch and are active partners with law enforcement, reporting any illegal activity or suspicious behavior.

* We instituted nightly sweeps of our campus to ensure safety.  

* We installed security cameras so we may be more vigilant of what is going on around the shelter.

* We installed trash cans along State Street and actively try to pick up any trash we see.  

* We have worked with individual neighbors to increase safety on their property, such as helping a neighbor install a flood light to increase visibility in her yard which made her feel safer in her home.

* We played a leadership role in re-making Zapata Park. La Puente raised over $85,000 for that effort and coordinated the 220 volunteers that were necessary to make that park beautiful.

Times are changing and the needs of our community are evolving. Throughout these changes, La Puente has grown from a homeless shelter to be so much more. We now have wraparound services that focus on meeting the unique needs of those living in the Valley. The values which nurtured the foundation of our organization are the same values that dictate La Puente’s current programming. La Puente has chosen to embody compassion, hope, community, redemption, and opportunity in a world that sometimes feels cruel, unfair, hard, and isolating. We fundamentally believe in the dignity of every single human being. We are all worthy of respect. These values are integral to the ways in which La Puente interacts with our clients and most certainly to the relationship we want to have with our neighbors. It is these same values of mutual respect that we hope will frame the ongoing conversation La Puente has with our community. Who we are and what we do is founded on our belief in the worthiness of every single human being. Over the past 35 years, we have lived by the mantra “see the need, meet the need.” As we continue to serve this community, we will continue to listen. The problems which affect our community will not be solved overnight, but we are here for the long haul. We ask you to partner with us to find the solutions. We are listening and we are working to address our community’s concerns. If you would like to work with us as we seek to create change in our community, join us for a community forum on Tuesday, September 26th at 7 p.m. in McDaniel Hall 101. Please contact 719-587-3499 for more information.

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